I worked at US Agricultural Research Service full-time
Really nice people. Team emphasis to research, with scientists' goals to help farmers and advance science, not personal glory. This means that people share and collaborate readily. Good comp time policy to facilitate work-life balance. Good benefits, such as retirement accounts.
Working in the government can be a pain, such as rules that say you have to spend 6X more by buying equipment from an approved supplier vs. on eBay. Many of us just bought our equipment with our own money. If you are not self-motivated (and keep your goals in mind), the slower pace of a government institution can lull you into slacking on your research.
Advice to Management
Coordinate with local universities (talks, seminars, etc.) to keep people feeling like they are scholars and motivate them to strive towards challenging research goals.
I applied online. The process took 6+ months. I interviewed at US Agricultural Research Service (Cleveland, OH).
Applied via USAJOBS.gov and received an email about 3-4 months later inquiring if I was still interested in position. The interview was done over the phone and took about 15-20 minutes. Questions focused on research experience and knowledge of instrumentation. They followed up about 2-3 weeks later with an offer. The offer was only available pending fingerprinting and background check. The job did not pay for relocation costs.
I inquired about negotiating for a higher salary but as a first time hire in the federal government I was told I had to start at 07, step 1.